Latest analysis from consumer advocacy group CHOICE has found Australian consumers are forced to pay staggeringly high premiums for repackaged content even when it is delivered online through streaming or on-demand services.
“Australians wanting to watch the upcoming season of Walking Dead will be paying up to 376 per cent more than people watching the same show in the United Kingdom,” says CHOICE Chief Executive Alan Kirkland.
Season 2 of the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black currently costs Australians a minimum of $27.26 through Google Play, 219 per cent more than what US Netflix customers pay. Consumers will pay up to 431 per cent more to access the show through Foxtel.
“Time and again we are seeing consumers hit with the ‘Australia Tax’ on digital content. It’s clear the business models forced on consumers by local intermediaries are subjecting Australians to artificially high prices for overseas content.”
“Consumers are asking themselves why they have to pay a premium to Foxtel when they can access and pay a reasonable price for content through legitimate overseas services like Netflix. Despite what some local incumbents have said, accessing Netflix – which will spend $3bn this year paying for content from studios – is legal”
“The heart of this issue is about local middlemen wanting to clip the ticket on popular overseas content rather than respond to changing technology and deliver affordable content online.”
In some cases, consumers simply can’t access shows they want to watch from an Australian provider. New Steven Soderbergh drama “The Knick” is currently showing in the USA and Singapore with no announcement for local release in Australia.
The Government has proposed introducing an industry-run internet filter and making internet service providers responsible for policing downloads to curb illegal downloading. CHOICE is instead calling for competition and market delivery issues to be addressed to allow consumers to easily pay a fair price for online content.
“We are concerned that the government is being influenced by the local cable industry to bring in laws that prop up out-dated technology and business models at the expense of cheaper internet streaming services.”
“Piracy is a problem in Australia but we expect the Government to look to the market first for a solution. Australians struggle to pay a fair price to watch what they want at the same time as the rest of the world. The internet has made affordable content possible but Australian providers are not delivering.”
Last month CHOICE crowd funded a television advertisement calling on the Federal Government to “work smart, not hard to beat online piracy”. The satirical advertisement featured a fictitious Minister struggling to launch his hand made internet filter. CHOICE continues to campaign against proposals that would make the internet more expensive without effectively addressing piracy.